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Weatherproof Your Pregnancy Workout

How to keep exercising when you're pregnant and the weather isn't great.

Keeping Cool

Hot, humid summer afternoons are another time to skip an outdoor walk or run.        

“Babies don't develop as well with excessive heat, which is why pregnant women are told to avoid hot tubs,” Williams says. “You get so hot, you raise the temperature of the baby. Don't be outside in the middle of the day in July or August exercising.”

You can also overheat while working out indoors, especially in a group fitness class.

“If you look in the mirror and you see that your face is really flushed, I'd take it down a notch,” O'Brien says.

Try the Talk Test

Years ago, doctors told pregnant patients to keep their heart rates below a certain number to ensure that they didn't exercise too intensely. Today, many experts prefer pregnant women to consider their rate of perceived exertion instead.

“We don't really go by heart rate anymore, because everybody's resting heart rate is different,” O'Brien says. “Instead, you should work out at a 7 on a scale from 1 to 10, rating your perceived exertion.”

If you're unsure what a 7 would be, try talking.

“You shouldn't be gasping for breath,” O'Brien says. “You should be able to complete a full sentence while exercising.”

If you can't rate your perceived exertion, there's also the heart-rate system.

“Some patients like to have a number, because the exercise bikes at the gym have a grip for pulse rate,” Williams says. “In general, it's ideal to keep your pulse rate below 150, but the more in-shape the person is, the harder it is to get to 150. A morbidly obese person can go up a flight of stairs and be at 150. Being able to carry on a conversation is a better guide than having an exact pulse rate.”

The Yoga Factor

Some people think that yoga and pregnancy go hand in hand, so novices buy a DVD or sign up for class. This isn't always a good idea.

“Only go to a prenatal yoga class,” O'Brien says. “They will be very specific about what you can and can't do."

If you decide to attend a regular yoga class, tell the instructor beforehand that you're pregnant so she can modify poses for you, O'Brien says.

Some fitness centers offer “hot yoga,” taught in a room that's pumped with heat. These classes are OK for your non-pregnant gym buddies, but not for you.

“Avoid classes where they're intentionally trying to get you to sweat,” says Cheryl R. Bellaire, MD, FACOG, an ob-gyn in Exton, Pa. “You want to watch for overheating.”

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